All anyone really has to buy, however, is Congress. LaPierre knows how to intimidate senators.

He tells them that the “NRA’s nearly 5 million members and America’s 100 million gun owners” will not vote for legislators in 2014 who are trying to grab their assault rifles, limit the size of their ammo clips or create universal background checks that will, as LaPierre tells them, lead the government “to tax” and “to take” their weapons.

To LaPierre, the war over guns is a class war. “Political elites” he said in a recent speech, “insult, denigrate and call us crazy. In their distorted view of the world, they are smarter than we are. They are special and more worthy than we are.”

LaPierre doesn’t always win. Bill Clinton, who knew how to speak to what were then called “Bubba” voters, beat him and signed an assault weapons ban in 1993. But that ban expired in 2003. Barack Obama wants it back, as do Bloomberg and several senators. But not enough senators. Not nearly enough.